Should you give products to bloggers for free in exchange for exposure? That question sparked a killer discussion on The eCommerce Group’s Facebook page recently. It also sparked our curiosity.
So we decided to look more into this. It turns out that, overall, sellers, consultants, PR pros and bloggers think this is a very good practice. See why and how to go about finding the right bloggers below.
Biz owners share this experiences
John Rhodes of HypnoBusters.com is all about sending stuff to bloggers.
“[It’s] a great way of getting exposure for your product,” he says. “I sell hypnotherapy products and have sent digital copies to bloggers asking for reviews. Many are grateful, especially if you ask them what specific session they would like. If they like it, then they will often write about it on their blog. Many also join my affiliate program.”
Michael Pomposello, co-founder of Influencer Connect, a company that helps other companies “amplify their messages,” also endorsed this method.
“When done properly, sending a blogger a product to review and to consider posting about is one of the most ethical and effective methods of promotion today,” he notes.
Rachael Nichol, director of Blogger Outreach at National Builder Supply, is another proponent.
“We partner with DIY and lifestyle bloggers to promote our products,” she says. “The bloggers receive one or more of our products in exchange for a review and links to our website.”
Find the right fit
But it’s not as simple as sending out a product to a random blogger in return for free promotion.
“My advice would be to contact the blogger and gauge their interest in your products,” Pomposello notes. “If it’s something they’re genuinely interested in, they are more likely going to have a positive experience with the product you send them.”
Dana Greyson, outreach for FINEX Cast Iron Cookware, agreed you should select your bloggers carefully.
“Choose bloggers creating consistently good quality written and visual content,” Greyson says. “Stay away from bloggers whose focus is on pushing product and lots of giveaways.”
Ryan Ken, Founder of Soxfords, a company specializing in “conservatively silly, playfully serious and professionally fun socks,” had four main prerequisites for choosing the appropriate blogger to maximize exposure.
“Overall I think it’s a great way to gain awareness for your brand in a way that’s less intrusive than advertising,” he says. “Just make sure that the blogger:
- Fits in enough with your brand image
- Has enough followers to make it worthwhile
- Is legitimate (it’s easy to create a fake account to scam brands for free swag) and
- Has agreed beforehand to post.”
Finding the right blogger!
Finding the right blogger can be a little tricky. Famebit, an influencer marketing platform that partners with Storenvy, helps connect bloggers and businesses.
Go for ‘reviews,’ not ‘features’
Joshua Kail, co-founder of Glass Lantern Public Relations, also emphasized the importance of being careful.
“Do not give products away unless you can be assured the product will be reviewed and not just ‘featured,'” he says. “There is a huge difference between providing a product for review purposes, and providing a product so you can get your product description and picture up on a site.
“The difference is purpose. When you provide a product for review, there is a real reason to do so and the coverage can be much better,” he continues. “The whole reason to get a blog post (or any press coverage) is to appeal to that loyal reader base. A hands-on product review is a direct and honest way of achieving that.”
Reviews are all about candor
Deborah Sweeney, a business owner and blogger, also had some insight.
“If a business provides a product to a blogger for exposure, the blogger has the opportunity to review, and write a good or bad reaction to the product,” she says. “I suppose the differentiating factor is whether or not the blogger is somehow required to provide a positive review. Most bloggers want to maintain credibility, so if provided with a product/service, they would respond with a candid reaction.
“Hence, a business owner who is looking to gain exposure is wise to find as many outlets as possible, including blogging outlets, to raise awareness of their product,” she adds.
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